NYC Council Testimony: Israel Only ME Country That Protects Zoroastrians, Other Minorities

FeaturedImage_2016-09-09_103358_NYC_Council_ZenobiaIsrael is the only country in the Middle East “where Zoroastrians and other religious minorities could peacefully and openly practice their religion,” Tower contributing editor Zenobia Ravji testified at a New York City Council hearing on Thursday.

Testimonies at the hearing, which debated a resolution condemning efforts to boycott Israel, were frequently interrupted by protesters who shouted “Zionism is racism,” “Fuck Israel,” and “Free Palestine” until they were removed by security.

Among those testifying was Zenobia Ravji, the associate director of coalitions at The Israel Project (which publishes The Tower). Ravji, a Zoroastrian, pointed out the strong similarities between her coreligionists and Jews, both of whem have been “persecuted for millennia” and “forced to preserve their identity in the diaspora.”

Ravji, who spent two years in Israel, noted that “it was evident that Israel was the only country in the Middle East, where Zoroastrians and other religious minorities could peacefully and openly practice their religion.”

Anti-Israel campaigns have pretenses of being a “legitimate social justice movement,” Ravji said. But in fact, she added, the movement is more “about bullying, genocide, anti-Semitism, and the abuse and manipulation of the unfortunate history of oppressed peoples around the world for sympathy and support from the international community.”

When The Israel Project took a number of black South African activists to Israel, Ravji recounted, the activists discovered that, contrary to anti-Israel activists’ claims, Israel is not an apartheid state and that boycotts of Israel hurt ordinary Palestinians financially. Most of all, they came to recognize “that all of this is happening while their own history of racism and prejudice in apartheid South Africa is being distorted and abused for economic gain and political power. ”

Given her background and experience, Ravji urged the council to pass the resolution so that “New York City will not subsidize discrimination, hate, bullying, and the theft of the history of oppressed peoples. Instead NYC will embody the openness and progressive values for which our great city is globally renowned. ”

Another witness at the hearing was Brooke Goldstein, director of the Lawfare Project, whoobserved:

While BDS proponents typically claim they are acting to demonstrate disagreement with the Israeli government, these claims are disingenuous and transparent. BDS proponents are free to criticize Israeli policies – as Israelis do every day in one of the world’s most active and dynamic democracies. However, targeting or discriminating against a person or company because of their ethnicity or national origin is entirely unacceptable. One would not boycott a restaurant owned by a Chinese man to protest the Chinese government’s policy, nor would one refuse to purchase from an African American retailer to declare condemnation of the government of Sudan. That is discrimination and it is illegal in New York State, pure and simple.

And yet, the BDS movement targets individuals and corporations because of their Jewish ethnicity and Israeli national origin-as well as secondary and even tertiary businesses that engage commercially with Israelis-ostensibly to protest the Israeli government. Tellingly, the BDS movement singles out the Jewish state, and only the Jewish state, in its so-called human rights advocacy. This is racism, pure and simple.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order in June barring the state from contracting with entities that boycott Israel.

Many leaders of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which was launched by Palestinian groups in 2005, have publicly affirmed that they seek Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”

by Staff

[Photo: New York City Council ]

Published on The Tower